People think racing is all about speed. Speed is important, but there are so many other attributes needed to be successful. Drivers need to be resourceful. They have to be thick skinned to weather the many looming storms: breakdowns, DNFs, losses or worse. It’s necessary to be clever and analytical. To be able to recognize an opportunity and have the forethought to be ready when that opportunity comes along. At the Best in the Desert Silver State 300, an opportunity came along. UTV racers Bruce Binnquist and Mitch Guthrie Jr. had been planning a bold move for months… One that would shake up the desert racing world.
Every class in off-road racing says that the cars or trucks which start ahead of them hinder their pace – keeping these approaching vehicles from reaching their fullest potential when forced to slow for the traffic ahead. The UTVs say it about the class 10s. The Class 10s say it about the 6100 trucks. The 6100 trucks say this about the 1500 cars. Even the 1500 drivers say it about the Trick Trucks, now and again. So what if you were able to remove the roadblock out of the equation? Could you break new records, find new heights in performance?
That’s exactly the bold move we saw from Binnquist and Guthrie. If they could enter the 1500 class, they could start ahead of all the other UTVs, the Class 10 cars, and the 6100 trucks – clearing the way for endless possibilities. It would take the right kind of course, and the right conditions, to pull it off, but this mindset is what makes a man (or woman) more than just a racer. It creates a competitor.
They reached out to Best In the Desert race officials beforehand to make sure their cars would be legal in the class, and they were. The Silver State provided everything else they needed. For whatever reason, the Silver State 300 is usually thin on entries. It’s held in some of the most remote areas of Nevada, but that’s what makes it so different. It contains just about every type of challenging terrain, and the free-range cattle you have to dodge is just another variable. There are long fast sections and tons of silt.
There are also a few water crossings and a tight, twisty section through the trees which favors the small, nimble, tight-turning vehicles. This is what made their scheme so intriguing. The trucks would eat them up in the vast straight sections, but the mountains would be the equalizer. There was also only one 1500 car entered. That meant they could swiftly run out front into clean air, and they could push wide-open all day.
Qualifying was on Friday. Binnquist finished fourth fastest while Guthrie took P7. The starting order would be BJ Baldwin, Robert Johnston, Kyle Jergensen and, surprisingly, Bruce Binnquist. They earned their spots at the front. Now, they just had to perform. The first part of the course was very fast, but the UTVs held their own. “I [wasn’t] passed until the car shut off,” said Bruce Binnquist.
“I kept the hammer down, and the only one making time on me was Mitch (Guthrie Jr.). Jergensen had a problem, so I moved up to P3. I was holding my pace at 101 miles-per-hour. [But] at mile 88, the car died. It turned out to be the alternator. I had to limp off the course on the stater. It was disappointing because I knew that at race mile 100, the course changed to our favor. From 210 to 250, Mitch put six minutes on those guys. The last few miles were back to wide-open stuff. He could go 108[mph], and they were hitting 120. It’s amazing he [earned] 2nd Overall – and only 13 seconds away from taking the win!”
“I’m stoked but it’s bittersweet,” Said Mitch Guthrie. “It’s our best finish ever, [and] only 12 seconds back. I honestly didn’t know what would happen, but the trucks behind us never caught [up]. They should have [had] an advantage on the long straights, but our split times were just as fast. We never saw them. The Pro R is fast in all conditions. I think we proved it’s the fastest UTV out there. The two-minute gaps up front allowed us to run at our own pace in clean air. I think we could have similar results at Vegas to Reno [in August], but I think Best in the Desert is working on a rule change to prevent this from happening again.”
The drama out front might have distracted everyone, but there was plenty of racing going on in the rest of the field. In Pro Turbo, Phil Blurton was looking to get three wins in a row. As usual, he was at the head putting time on everyone. All of a sudden, he was immobile on the tracker. When his number didn’t move for 30 minutes, fans knew it wasn’t good. This left it up to the other points leaders in the class to have a go at it. Joe Terrana and Vito Ranuio came into the race tied with 214 points apiece. Ranuio took the top spot with Terrana behind in 2nd.
“We started Second behind Phil (Blurton) but clipped a rock in the dust at mile 20,” said Terrana. “We lost two spots [while] changing the tire. Ranuio and Murray got past us. We were in blinding dust for the next 150 miles. We got around Murray and caught up to Ranuio. Both of us were behind a 6100 truck; they made a lot of dust! Vito…passed him, but they pulled right back in front of us. There was no wind all day, so the dust was horrible. We were tied with Ranuio on points coming in, so he has the lead now. It’s going to be tight racing all year.” Rounding out the podium was Dustin Jones – a place he knows well, and Seth Quintero was just off the podium in 4th place. Quintero was the highest finishing Polaris, though Can-Am swept spots One, Two and Three.
In the NA Class, Polaris had its revenge. They took the top five spots. Max Eddy Jr. was crowned king with Josh Row at his stern. In Third was 15-year-old Ethan Groom. This “kid” has worked his way up through the Youth Classes and now is a contender competing against the Pros. “My strategy coming in was to run a smart pace until we [reached] the twisty mountain sections of the course,” said Ethan.
“Then I would use all my short-course racing skills to make up time. It worked until I came up on a car blocking the course. I went wide in the turn, avoiding him, and got tangled in a fence. I tried to back up but was caught on barbed wire. It cost us time that put us back to Third. The team with the least…mistakes wins.”
Other notable finishers were Chris Blais in Trophy Unlimited, (Dan Fisher was Second and Trey Gibbs Third). Mitchell Alsup won UTV Super Stock and Hailey Hein in the Sportsman Class. The UTVs become faster and more capable each year. Binnquist and Guthrie took their shot at the Silver State 300 and came so close to making history. No, let’s take that back…
They did make history… Just not their ultimate goal (yet). One thing is for certain: they won’t be taken lightly anymore. Proving, under the right circumstances, they can give chase to the Trophy Trucks, outdo all expectations and compete for the Overall title. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
All results posted are unofficial. To see the full current results, visit: https://bitd.com/race-results/
UTV PRO NA:
-  Max Eddy Jr. & Austin Eddy – 06:05:12.615
-  Josh Row & Preston Axford – 06:08:50.023
-  Ethan. Groom, Eric Dollente & Colbey Groom – 06:13:41.104
-  Austin Bolton & Matthew Banuelos – 06:16:41.898
-  Cadence Cowan & David Cowan – 06:17:20.901
UTV SUPER STOCK:
- [S906] Mitchell Alsup & Nick Blais – 06:06:44.208
- [S913] Chase Carr & Bryan Carr – 06:10:39.484
- [S877] Randy Blume & Jeff Day – 06:33:40.401
- [S972] Ernie Ely & Mitch Axelson – 06:34:17.974
- [S951] Conner Maxwell & Cole Bassler – 06:49:31.064
UTV TURBO PRO:
- [T950] Vito Ranuio & Stefano Ranuio – 05:46:16.326
- [T898] Joe Terrana & Jason Montes – 05:47:49.436
- [T978] Dustin Jones & Dustin Henderson – 05:51:31.688
- [T903] Seth Quintero & Colby Wemple – 05:55:17.401
- [T911] Cameron. Meister, Shamous Smith, Josh Meister & Jason Meister – 05:55:21.147
- [R961] Hailey Hein, Riley Hein, Craig Hein & Shannon Hein – 06:22:10.603
- [R913] Nick Campbell & Chris Johnson – 06:53:43.780
- [R979] Jennifer Culver & John Culver – 07:40:03.671
- [R966] Chase Ames – 08:04:56.385
- [R925] Richard Ferrick & Sabrina Escobedo – 08:15:48.989
CT STOCK MID:
-  Chad. Hall, Chris Woo, Waqas Shaf & Nick Holmer – 07:07:35.668
-  Cole Barbieri, Nick Barbier, Chase Barbieri & Brandon Biro – 05:22:56.074
-  Mitch Jr. Guthrie & Kurtis Elliott – 05:23:08.162